Impatiens balsamina
Common Name: garden balsam 
Type: Annual
Family: Balsaminaceae
Native Range: India, southeast Asia
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 0.50 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to frost
Bloom Description: Pink, rose, red, purple, white and bicolor
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil


This species of impatiens is a true annual. It is easily grown in evenly moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade in the St. Louis area. Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date or purchase selections in pots. Set out plants after last frost date. Consider pinching back stems of young plants when they reach about 4” tall. Plants may self-seed in the garden (sometimes very aggressively in tropical climates).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Impatiens balsamina, commonly called rose balsam or garden balsam, is an erect, sparsely-branched, tender annual that typically grows to 6-30” tall (depending on variety). Although an old garden favorite since at least Victorian times, it has been eclipsed in popularity in recent years by its close relative, the flat-flowered garden impatiens (Impatiens walleriana). Cup-shaped single to mostly double flowers (to 2” diameter) with incurved spurs come in various shades of pink, rose, red, purple, white and bicolor versions thereof. Flowers are often spotted. The double camellia-like cultivars are currently the most popular plants in the species. Flowers bloom singly or in small clusters (2-3) from the leaf axils throughout the growing season. Elliptic to lance-shaped, deeply serrate leaves (to 3.5” long) are light green.

Genus name comes from the Latin word impatiens meaning impatient in reference to the violent seed discharge from the ripe pods.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Shady beds, borders and woodland gardens. Edging along walks or paths. Containers.